By in Music

Dougie MacLean's Caledonia

Dougie MacLean has sometimes been called the unofficial poet laureate of Scotland . He is perhaps best known for his song “Caledonia.” Written in ten minutes on a beach in Brittany while MacLean was backpacking through Europe, this modern ballad was an expression of personal homesickness for the singer-songwriter. Little did he know the impact this little tune would have for an entire nation – and in fact for the Scottish diaspora in general.

Caledonia ” – whose title echoes the name the Romans gave to Scotland – is in every pub singer's repertoire these days. It is performed by orchestras and pipe bands, and it was even used as the focal point of the videos for the Homecoming Scotland 2009 campaign , on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robbie Burns. Scotland Now offers a lovely version of Dougie singing his ballad on their YouTube channel. In the commentary, they state that he has consented to this song becoming the official Scottish national anthem , should the people ever vote in favour of independence.

I can't listen to this song without getting goosebumps. I've been listening to it since I was introduced to the music of Dougie MacLean by a friend in the late 80s. And it still has that impact on me.

If you've heard it murdered by the likes of Celtic Thunder , or worse still Celtic Woman, please do take a listen to the song performed by a real folk singer. It's meant to be earthy and earnest, and not all jazzed up and performed by a bunch of models in ball gowns and fake smiles.

“Caledonia” is a song that comes from the very bones of a man who grew up watching his father work the land, and who in this day of technology actually knows how to use a scythe. Dougie MacLean isn't just making money on the popularity of Celtic music. He is a Celt and a talented musician, plain and simple.

This is my Music entry for Dawnwriter 's A-W Category Challenge . Two more to go!

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Image credit: Dougie MacLean by Diane Snider/Wikipedia ( CC0 1.0 )

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celticeagle wrote on November 30, 2014, 10:24 PM

What a lovely tune about a place I love so much. Thanks for sharing.

Ruby3881 wrote on December 1, 2014, 3:02 AM

I'm glad you enjoyed it! Dougie has so many more wonderful songs. I hope you'll have a chance to hear some of the others :)

BarbRad wrote on December 2, 2014, 3:03 AM

it is haunting as he sings it. It's a shame that others seem to lose the spirit of it when they perform it.

MamaOzzy3881 wrote on December 11, 2014, 1:59 AM

That is a great song!